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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Nutritional challenges of working poor families: Family food insecurity and the emergency food system

Mariana Chilton, PhD, MPH1, Lynnette Riddell, PhD2, Eileen G. Ford, MS, RD3, Akosua Opoku-Boateng, BS1, and Shortie McKinney, PhD, RD, FADA3. (1) Department of Community Health and Prevention, Drexel University School of Public Health, 245 N. 15th Street, Mail Stop 660, Philadelphia, PA 19102, 215-762-6512, mmc33@drexel.edu, (2) Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, (3) Nutrition Center, Dept of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Background: Emergency food cupboard (EFC) users in Philadelphia return almost every month (82%), have children (75%), and are generally employed (60%). Little is known about how the emergency food system supports the nutritional needs of poor working families. Objectives: This research investigated how the emergency food system in Philadelphia addresses the nutritional needs of single working parents and their children (12 years old and younger) from two perspectives: food providers and single working parents. Client responses to the food packages were explored. Methods: Integrated community-based research methodology included assessments/interviews, and nutrient assessment of food packages. Volunteers were drawn from a random sample of 50 EFC in Philadelphia, with 33 participating. A convenience sample of working parents were recruited at EFC on food distribution days. Results: Provider unmet needs included refrigeration, funding, and volunteers. Volunteers expressed frustration regarding variability of packages and ad-hoc nature of food types. Parents described chronic lack of food, desire for more meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and more cereals. Among 41 parents interviewed, 27 (66%) experience household food insecurity, 29 (70%) received welfare assistance, and 30 (73%) received food stamps. Of 84 children, 76 (90%) were deemed to be in good to excellent health by parents. Health was not associated with food insecurity status. Conclusions: Though parents described chronic lack of food, money and transportation options, they emphasized the importance of balanced meals. Food pantry packages may help shield children from sequelae (poor health and school performance) usually associated with food insecurity.

Learning Objectives:

  • At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

    Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Safety Net Providers

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

    [ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

    Food Insecurity: Access, Federal Food Program Participation and Health

    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA